Friday, April 22, 2011

Thome's trend of slow starts

Thome's solo homerun (AP Photo)
The Twins have a surplus of batters that are off to a cold start to the season in 2011. Hitters throughout the line-up have struggled to find a rhythm at the plate and this has caused the team to struggle at scoring runs. Denard Span and Jason Kubel have been the two bright spots for the Twins, while others have looked lost at the plate.

Jim Thome is one of those players that has been struggling to start the 2011 campaign (even with his homerun last night). In an interview before the game, Thome even admitted that he has been struggling to start the year. The Twins got more than they expected from Thome last season as he lead the club with 25 homeruns. At this young juncture in the season Thome has been able to put up the following numbers:

HR: 2
RBI: 7
DBL: 2
SLG: .362
OPS: .658

These numbers continue a trend that Thome has followed over the course of his career. He struggles in early season games. In fact, the months of March and April are typically his worst for offensive production.

BA: .266 (2nd worst month behind September .257)
HR: 78 (worst month)
RBI: 237 (worst month)
Hits: 330 (worst month)
Total Bases: 646 (worst month)

The Paul Bunyan of the Twins has over 90+ homeruns in the other months of the season but the early part of the year has continued to be a struggle. He has 19 fewer RBI in March/April than any other month of the season. His hit total in the opening month is 23 less than the closest other month of the year. In the warm summer months, Thome averages over 800 total bases. In comparison the cold beginning part of the year Thome only has in the mid-600's for total bases.

There was a great quote from Ron Gardenhire in the Star Tribune about Thome's early season struggles.
"When Thome scuffles you don't recognize it as much because if he strikes out three times, they are fun strikeouts because he is ripping [at] it. He'll be find. I enjoy watching him walk up there."
Thome is also pushing to join the 600 homerun club this season. A mark that will be great for Twins fans to follow throughout the year. Some players struggle to hit the ball when they are reaching important milestones like the 500 or 600 homerun club. Thome had14 plate appearances between his 499th and 500th homerun back in 2007. It will be interesting to see how well he can hit when he sneaks closer to the 600 homerun plateau.

Jim Thome is a Hall-of-Fame player and he will find his swing as the weather starts to warm across baseball. Maybe all Thome needs is a little flannel and some facial hair. I mean, who wants to hit the ball a country mile with a cold bat???

(Photo- Minnesota Twins)

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